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A Child's Garden: A Story of Hope    by Michael Foreman order for
Child's Garden
by Michael Foreman
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael Foreman introduces young readers to a small boy whose 'world was a place of ruin and rubble, ringed by a fence of barbed wire.' In the rubble he finds a speck of green, 'peeping up toward the sunlight' and reminding him of better times.

The boy nurtures the tiny plant, watering it and giving it shade. A grapevine grows along the high barbed-wire fence. It attracts birds and butterflies and other children, who make it a playground till soldiers come and destroy it. The boy is heartbroken through the cold winter that follows.

But something very special happens when spring arrives, bringing with it a little girl on the other side of the fence. The boy feels hope. Even if the soldiers return, he muses, 'Roots are deep and seeds spread ...' Foreman's inspiring message is underlined by stark drawings of the boy's environment that are gradually infiltrated with light and color as the vine spreads.

Though adults might want to introduce young children carefully (to avoid nightmares) to the existence of refugee camps filled with kids like themselves, Foreman's message - that children can sow seeds across adult barriers, and make a big difference - is a good and important one.

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